Micromolar-Affinity Benzodiazepine Receptors Regulate Voltage-Sensitive Calcium Channels in Nerve Terminal Preparations
Benzodiazepines in micromolar concentrations significantly inhibit depolarization-sensitive Ca2+ uptake in intact nerve-terminal preparations. Benzodiazepine inhibition of Ca2+ uptake is concentration dependent and stereospecific. Micromolar-affinity benzodiazepine receptors have been identified and characterized in brain membrane and shown to be distinct from nanomolar-affinity benzodiazepine receptors. Evidence is presented that micromolar, and not nanomolar, benzodiazepine binding sites mediate benzodiazepine inhibition of Ca2+ uptake. Irreversible binding to micromolar benzodiazepine binding sites also irreversibly blocked depolarization-dependent Ca2+ uptake in synaptosomes, indicating that these compounds may represent a useful marker for identifying the molecular components of Ca2+ channels in brain. Characterization of benzodiazepine inhibition of Ca2+ uptake demonstrates that these drugs function as Ca2+ channel antagonists, because benzodiazepines effectively blocked voltage-sensitive Ca2+ uptake inhibited by Mn2+, Co2+, verapamil, nitrendipine, and nimodipine. These results indicate that micromolar benzodiazepine binding sites regulate voltage-sensitive Ca2+ channels in brain membrane and suggest that some of the neuronal stabilizing effects of micromolar benzodiazepine receptors may be mediated by the regulation of Ca2+ conductance.